A World Without People — Life In A Pandemic

It has been about 40 days since I haven’t left my house and what may have seemed like an introvert’s dream at first glance, turned out to be a fool’s fantasy. I suppose the ancient adage, “Be careful what you wish for”, is quite true after all.

“People need people…”

It has been about 40 days since I haven’t left my house and what may have seemed like an introvert’s dream at first glance, turned out to be a fool’s fantasy. I suppose the ancient adage, “Be careful what you wish for”, is quite true after all. Just when we were getting used to living through the 6-inch screens of our smartphones — ordering everything online and communicating with everyone digitally — cutting down our physical interactions to a bare minimum, we have been forced to live in a world where the option of physical interactions has quite literally disappeared. And while the world — with its medical, economic, and societal structures — crumbles around us, we are thrust in this new reality of a world without people.

I don’t exactly remember where I heard this sentence: people need people. But in these times that can only be characterized as crazy, the only thing I can think about is people and how underappreciated people are. In a world where everything and everyone is a tap-on-the-screen away, maybe we have taken the physical presence of people for granted. Maybe, it is living in this new reality, which looks like a sad-yet-horrifying caricature of the world we have known, that has made me nostalgic about the original version of our world that we were living in just a few months ago. As I sit here in a dark room in my house and reminisce about the light of the past, I am reminded of Charles M. Schulz saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely”.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder…”

It is understandable and even expected, to miss the friends and acquaintances in the outside world. Families and friends getting together for celebrations, children playing together in the parks, friends in schools and universities, workplace friends in offices, are all understandably deeply missed every day by people everywhere. But something that I only recently realized is that there are more people to be missed. The stranger that smiles and nods at you while you’re walking down the street to get to work. The barista that calls your name repeatedly because your vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso is ready but you can’t hear her because “Six Feet Under” by Billie Eilish is blasting through your headphones. The bus driver and the old lady at the supermarket checkout counter and the 19-year old going for his evening run and the 32-year old walking her dog and the other thousands of nameless strangers that you see daily. These are all the people that we miss as well. We may not know their names, and we may have never spoken to them, but they have been a part of our lives too. Simply walking down a crowded street with a hundred nameless faces that blend together after a while is an experience that we may have not appreciated before but I am certain we would all like to go through every day now.

The world is falling apart and it seems that the only glimmer of joy is to see people united together and fighting the devil by staying safe within their homes, while other people like medical professionals, grocery store workers, and anybody else keeping the world running go out there endangering their lives every day. For the first time in a long time, it seems like entire humanity is united against a common cause and all I can think is that we truly are an exceptional species who can take charge and bring true change when called upon. While I do not know what the future holds for us collectively or individually, and without sounding like an optimist of the delusional kind, the one thing I can say is that I have faith that we will get to a somewhat normal version of our planet sooner if not later. What gives me this optimistic hope and faith? People…because people are what make this roller-coaster of a world livable and as I have already said, people need people.

“And in the blink of an eye, everything changed and the world came to a halt…and yet, the clocks kept ticking.”